Sep 24, 2020
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How Do Podcasts Make Money?

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Radio microphone isolated on blue background. 3d illustration GETTY What are some good tips for successfully monetizing a podcast? originally appeared on Quora: the place to realize and share knowledge empowering people to profit from others and better understand the world. Answer by Jeff Umbro Founder and CEO of the Podglomerate on Quora: Whenever someone asks me how a podcast may be monetized I’m going back to a 2014 tweet storm from Andreessen Horowitz cofounder Marc Andreessen

 

You could discover a pretty version of that rant here but Marc was very optimistic about where media was headed and was very generous together with his thoughts on how someone can earn money off the medium which in 2020 includes podcasting. He broke it down into 8 buckets which I ve below applied to podcasting

 

This list is by means exhaustive but it’s going to provide readers with a pleasant place to start. 1. Advertising: The history of podcast advertising is brief since the medium hasn t existed very long. I don t know who did it first or how they found their brand or show but in 2018 brands spent $479 million dollars in the podcast space up 53% from 2017

 

It s predicted that the market will cross $1 billion in 2021 but I don t know that we ll even have to attend that long. In case you run a podcast with a dedicated and engaged audience there s probably a brand willing to spend money to arrive your listeners

 

There s plenty of nuance to this but you could sell ads in your podcast in three main ways: Direct to brand: In case you represent a podcast that meets a brand s audience and demographic thresholds you could sell ads in your show via preroll midroll or postroll advertisements on to the brand in line with a value determined by both parties which is usually represented on a CPM (cost per 1 000 downloads) model

 

These ads are often product endorsements direct response and host-read. Through an agency: Podcast advertising agencies operate either as an intermediary or broker for the brand or as a marketplace. As an example agencies like Veritone One  Ad Results or Havas Edge represent clients like LinkedIn  Noemie and Embark. These agencies will vet the podcast and associated talent and will plan a big cohesive campaign on behalf of their clients

 

They’ve an exceptionally particular and specific way of buying ads and typically plan quarterly. There are also podcast marketplaces such as Advertisecast that allow podcasters to list their shows and inventory for brands to browse and select. Programmatic: Among the fastest growing segments within the podcast advertising marketplace is programmatic advertising which you could recognize as non host-read ads that appear in podcasts

 

Brands will usually purchase programmatic space using audience demographics in preference to selecting specific shows and genres. The various players during this field include Megaphone s Targeted Marketplace  Art19 and Acast. PROMOTED Civic Nation BRANDVOICE | Paid Program
VT Engage Rally The Youth Vote On Campus
UNICEF USA BRANDVOICE | Paid Program
Why COVID-19 Is Hitting Black And Hispanic Children Especially Hard
Grads of Life BRANDVOICE | Paid Program
#WhatsWorking: How To Build A More Just And Equitable Economy The Ideas Are Flowing 2

 

Subscriptions: Podcast subscriptions have sprung up in some different forms in recent times but are certainly not new. It s a simple enough concept – in case you put your podcast behind a paywall you re typically transitioning from a free ad-supported podcast to a subscription based service. Examples include Stitcher Premium  Luminary and Brew as well as some not-quite-but-almost podcast options like Audible or Serial Box

 

You could even count Spotify in this camp. 3. Premium content: The premium content wellspring toes the road between ad-supported and subscription models. Using platforms like Patreon  Glow and Supporting Cast podcasters promises premium content to their most rabid listeners for a recurring monthly fee but still allows for a free listening tier that helps funnel more listeners to the premium content

 

This enables for plenty of podcasters to secure a healthy base pay that doesn t have faith in advertising revenue. Here s a list of the top earners amongst podcasters on Patreon which now and again is a not small amount of money and a blog post from Jack Rhysider of the great Darknet Diaries podcast that details his 2019 Patreon earnings

 

This is likewise a feasible model for larger media outlets: See Slate Plus. I’d also include initiatives like paid merchandise under premium content ie something your listeners are willing to pay for. 4. Conferences and events: If your podcast can command an audience in real life events are a great way to usher in some extra revenue and help build community

 

Within the larger scheme of things there are few podcasts which have the resources and audience to tug off a suitable live event but when your show lends itself to the stage there s a real opportunity. This recent report from Axios shows that it’s lucrative. This line is directly from Andreessen and however cynical in all fairness accurate: Bits are increasingly abundant and human presence is becoming scarce

 

So charge for that scarcity and use bits to drive demand for human presence. 5. Cross-media: The podcast space has become a ripe arena for developing intellectual property that may be transformed to television film books blogs and more. Hollywood production companies are increasingly seeing podcasts as inexpensive vehicles to check storylines and build fan bases before pumping larger amounts of capital into development

 

The same is true for book publishers television producers editors and more. Examples include Gimlet Studios (Alex Inc. Homecoming Dolores Roach Reply All) Wondery (Dr. Death Dirty John etc) Welcome to Night Vale (lots here) The Adventure Zone (Here There Be Gerblins etc) Bodega Boys (Desus and Mero) HBO (Pod Save America  2 Dope Queens etc)

 

And every of those cross-media properties come full circle and help to grow the unique podcast 😉 6. Crowdfunding: Just like in every other type of media direct funding from the fanbase may be really powerful. There are all types of examples of this dating back to NPR listener fund drives within the 70s but in recent times they ve morphed into a slightly different form

 

Identical to Bernie Sanders can crowdfund his campaign with small donations within the age of Kickstarter anyone can create something and ask their family and friends for help (see here and here) – there s even an entire genre of podcasts created to assist you do this well. There s also a history of various parties doing this so well that the success of the campaign became more of the story than the campaigns goals like with Radiotopia s annual fundraiser or Planet Money s much-talked about T-shirt campaign (at least on Startup)

 

Listed below are a ton of examples of successful crowdfunding Kickstarters for radio and broadcast if you would like inspiration (special shoutout to the MaxFunDrive). You furthermore mght shouldn t feel obligated to limit donation asks to big fund drives and projects as plenty of podcasts have consistent donation links and tip jars available on site

 

Similarly to premium content in case you re working to create something that people find value in they re usually willing to pay for it. 7. Bitcoin for micropayments: There are some notable instances where podcasting platforms like Castbox have tried to implement micropayments but I m not an authority during this space and I can t speak to the success of those projects

 

In case you re interested in learning more about this I like to recommend listening to season 1 of the ZigZag podcast with Manoush Zomorodi and Jen Poyant where they explore the birth of something called Civil Coin. 8. Philanthropy: As a non-expert during this field I ll quote Andreessen directly here: Today the examples are Pro Publica and First Look Media tomorrow the may well be many more examples

 

There’s around $300 billion per year in philanthropic activity in the united states alone. It s WAY underutilized within the news business. And adding my two cents there are plenty of amazing organizations that are utilizing grants to create new audio projects. That is certainly a direction that would be ripe to explore

 

As noted previously this is not an exhaustive list but will give readers a place to begin their research. This question originally appeared on Quora – the place to realize and share knowledge empowering people to profit from others and better understand the world. You could follow Quora on Twitter and Facebook

 

More questions: Podcasts: What should podcast creators find out about distribution?
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